Have you ever looked in a mirror and wished you could be someone else? Someone more...good looking, perhaps?

Edwin Teo  |  Singapore
Published 2016-03-31 11:20:30

Have you ever looked in a mirror and wished you could be someone else? Someone more…good looking, perhaps? Maybe you just want to look a little different — a slimmer waist, more muscle on your bones, bigger eyes, or any other assortment of physical changes.

I recently watched a fantastic film — The Beauty Inside, a remake of an American miniseries of the same name — that explores the idea of whether beauty resides on the surface, or if it’s what’s inside that really matters.

In The Beauty Inside, Woo-Jin wakes up every day in a different body, regardless of age, gender and nationality. This presents a particular dilemma for relationships — when even Woo-Jin struggles to grow accustomed to his new body every day, what does that mean for someone he is in a relationship with? Would you decide to stay with someone you love if you discovered one morning that they had transformed into a dishevelled old man? Or if they were suddenly a six-year-old child? Or if they simply had become drastically uglier?

At the same time, Woo-Jin discovers that being good-looking opens doors — it gets you bought drinks in a bar and ups your chances of getting laid. But this is common knowledge for us now. Throughout our lives we’ve been conditioned by media to know how important it is to be good-looking, even from a young age, with tales like The Ugly Duckling or Beauty And The Beast. One could argue that it has made us into an incredibly superficial society, one that holds looks in impossibly high regard. You can’t judge a book by its cover. But it’s the cover that grabs a potential reader’s attention after all.

The Modern Dating Scene Is All About Looks

Today’s media perpetuates this even further, and in the modern dating scene, looks are more important than ever. Dating apps like Tinder distill attraction to absolutes — if you’re good-looking we swipe right, if you’re ugly we swipe left.

Good-looking people then get preferential treatment in Tinder’s algorithm and have a higher perceived value on the app and get shown more attractive people on the app as well, since Tinder has a vested interest in creating matches.

Image credit: Paktor
Image credit: Paktor

Other dating apps like okcupid and Paktor let you filter people by more seemingly arbitrary factors like height and build, because maybe you find taller and muscular or slimmer people more attractive.

Image credit: mtv.com
Image credit: mtv.com

This is the reason why “honeytraps” and “catfishing” work as well. Put up a photo of a sexy lady (or, less commonly, a sexy man) and you can have your inbox flooded with messages to fuel your end goal of information or laughs or whatever it is you’re after.

We all just want to be desired. So sure, go ahead, pretty up your photo with MeituPic or whatever it is that you use. Turn to your friend and tell them they are beautiful. But while looks matter, remember that it’s the beauty inside that endures.

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